Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kante's No Conductor on the Big Stage, He Still Has Long Way to Go for Chelsea

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Kante's No Conductor on the Big Stage, He Still Has Long Way to Go for Chelsea

Article excerpt

Byline: Harry Redknapp Read Harry Redknapp's column every Thursday

IT WAS a big blow for Leicester to lose N'Golo Kante but I'm not sure how much he has improved Chelsea so far. He was a big fish in a small pond last season but hasn't made a massive impact since coming to London.

It is very early days at Stamford Bridge and there's plenty of time for him to improve but you couldn't say he is a major player for Chelsea at the moment.

Whether he needs time to adjust to a bigger stage, I don't know, but it was certainly easier for him to sit in front of the back four and break up play at Leicester given how compact they always were.

Chelsea have to be a bit more expansive so that makes the job a bit harder. He came from nowhere really to become a big star at Leicester but has to back it up at one of Europe's biggest clubs now.

The Blues play his former club on Saturday and it is possible Antonio Conte will continue playing three at the back as he did against Hull before the international break that change in system may just help Kante (left).

Chelsea used that shape at Hull and I saw he completed more passes and had more touches of the ball than he had in any of his previous 43 Premier League games.

But it is worth remembering with those stats that he is only a steady passer of the ball.

Most of those passes will have been safe you don't look to him to unlock teams. He's a continuity player who gets it and gives it to someone who can play better than him. There will be times when Conte might want a quarterback who can really play maybe someone like Cesc Fabregas. He hasn't been a regular in recent weeks but can pick it up off the back four, thread it between the lines or run it upfield from there. We'll only find out how good Kante is in that role when they play the better teams, starting this weekend with the champions. Leicester's title defence was always going to be tough but it has been made harder by having to learn the art of defending all over again following the rule changes in the summer.

The changes where players face tougher punishments for holding and grappling in the box have been good for the game. …

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